Why you should read to your baby
Did you know that babies begin listening during pregnancy? It’s truly amazing that ear and brain structures for listening start working between 25-29 weeks of gestation. At about 28-30 weeks, connections between the brain and the ear start happening! For the auditory brain to develop, babies need to listen to language, music and all different kinds of sounds.
A great way to help children learn to listen and talk is reading aloud. Reading aloud to that growing baby in utero is a jump start to listening, talking and future reading. Reading aloud to children of all ages has huge benefits.
Research on reading aloud to children tells us that it:
- Is the single most important thing to help a child get ready to read and learn.
- Helps a child learn more, unique words. Children who know more words do better when starting kindergarten.
- Helps a child’s brain develop. Language development is vitally important from birth to 3 years.
- Helps a child love to read.
- Helps a child learn.
- Helps parents bond with their child.
- Sets an example for children that reading is important and fun.
The first three years of a child’s life is the most important time for learning. Reading aloud to children boosts their vocabulary, listening and talking skills.
Will watching TV help my child learn?
A parent may ask, “My child loves to watch TV for several hours a day! What is wrong with that?” Watching a little bit of TV isn’t a bad thing. It’s what a child misses by watching many hours of TV. It can cause problems. Children may miss playing games, drawing, hobbies, playing outside and talking with friends or family. Those activities help children learn about getting along with others, problem solving and having fun. Playing and having fun are main ways that young children learn.
Watching TV doesn’t require any interaction with others. It is passive, not active. The American Academy of Pediatrics says no more than 10 hours a week of TV, and no TV for children less than 2 years. This is based on research. When children watch more than 10 hours a week of TV, school scores start dropping.
How long should read aloud time be?
Families lead very busy lives in today’s world. It’s very easy to hand over smart phones or tablets to children for easy, engaging, digital entertainment. Children may learn to swipe screens before learning to turn a page. Reading becomes less important. There is not a set amount of time to read aloud to children. Even 15 minutes a day can make a big difference. Here’s a great example of how reading aloud can affect a child during the first 5 years:
15 minutes every day x 365 days x 5 years = 27,375 minutes OR 456.25 hours of reading aloud. That means the child hears reading aloud 456 hours before starting kindergarten. That’s a great jump-start to being a good reader.
Some ideas for fitting reading aloud into your day and week:
- Visit your local library. Get a free library card for you and your child. Check out books weekly. It’s FREE!
- Visit read aloud story time at the library.
- Read aloud at breakfast time.
- Keep books in the car to read while waiting at appointments.
- Make bedtime book reading a family tradition.
- Have a family story time every week.
- Keep waterproof books in the bath tub for a quick read during bath time.
- Read together as a family every day.
- Have older siblings read aloud to younger siblings.
Reading aloud should be FUN and FREQUENT! It is never too early or too late to start reading aloud to your child.
1.Jim Trelease on Reading: www.trelease-on-reading.com
2.Read Aloud 15 Minutes: www.readaloud.org
3.Reach Out and Read: http://reachoutandread.org
4.Reading Rockets: www.readingrockets.org
1.Anderson, Richard C., http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED253865.pdf
About the author
Becky Clem, MA, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT, is a Rehab Services education coordinator at Cook Children's. Cook Children's offers four types of therapy plans, and tailor them for your child's individual needs. Cook Children's services and specializations include:
- Cochlear implant
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
- Transitional care